Each year, on the first Friday in June, people in the US celebrate National Donut Day. The origins of this commemoration go 100 years back in time. Soon after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, the Protestant Christian church and international charitable organisation The Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. It was during that mission that volunteering women began serving free donuts to soldiers on the front lines with the aim to boost the troops’ morale. These women, dubbed “Donut Lassies”, are often credited with making donuts widely popular in the United States when troops returned home from war.
To celebrate this day, we have released three images of donut-shaped buildings taken from space. These constructions, already impressive if you’re standing nearby, look even more astonishing when appreciated from space. Each of them is located in a different part of the world, but what they all have in common is their imposing proportions and innovative designs. Moreover, the cities where these buildings were constructed: Beijing in China, Oxford in the United Kingdom, and Cupertino in the United States, are all examples where the smart-cities’ vision is being implemented. They rely more and more on connected technology for large scale sustainability challenges, from monitoring car parks and streets to ease traffic congestion, to improving building’s energy efficiency.
Phoenix International Media Center
The first one, the Phoenix International Media Center, is a spheroid torus formed by several curves that convolute and involute on a turning lattice of steel. Despite of its curved structure, the building’s design is simple: the torus functions as a shell that surrounds two conventionally structured buildings inside. Energy-saving and low-carbon concepts were also applied in the building design. The rainwater is collected by dropping naturally along the structural ribs into a collection tank located at the bottom of the building. After being filtered, it is recycled to water the artistic waterscape and irrigation for landscape. Moreover, the cone-shaped shared space generates a chimney effect that provides natural air ventilation to save energy during transitional seasons.
Diamond Light Source
The second one, the Diamond Light Source is the United Kingdom’s national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, near Oxford. The Diamond’s 561m-diameter ring, which gives the building its distinctive circular shape, covers an area in excess of 43,300 square metres, or the area of over six football pitches. Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.
And last, but not least, the third building, the new Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, is marked for being the world’s largest piece of curved glass and for its calibrated excelling awnings designed to prevent rain from dripping onto the building’s glass facades. Moreover, Apple Park also features the world’s largest naturally ventilated building. It is expected to require no heating or air conditioning for nine months of the year and it is outfitted with solar panels around the top of the building, too.
Space technology to improve smart cities development
Geospatial information is a valuable source of information to develop accurate and cost-effective topographic mapping and 3D modelling of buildings and cities for urban development and civil engineering applications.
Accurate satellite imagery is crucial to designers, surveyors, engineers and architects at every stage of a project. It improves decision making and assessment from the initial planning throughout the whole process. It allows designers and engineers to visualize and evaluate the impact on the surrounding environment, to work with much greater cost and quality control, and to easily test and adapt the designs to the client’s needs. In addition, satellite data provides valuable information for the development of both smart and sustainable cities.
Deimos-2, the satellite that captured the images above, has an off-nadir imaging ability, up to 45 degrees, that allows it to obtain single pass stereo imaging, vital for engineering applications such as 3D modeling and topographic mapping. Moreover, Deimos-2 imagery allows to monitor urban growth and surface movements and changes, supporting timely detection of undesired effects deriving from constructions and risk assessment.